Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

May, 2008
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Mexican Hat
Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) is a wildflower that's a summer workhorse, blooming throughout the heat. Landscapers in my community development sprayed herbicide in an area that had this flower and it germinated shortly thereafter! Flowers have a tall, narrow, brown cone surrounded by floppy, yellow or rusty orange petals. Supposedly, it resembles a sombrero, thus the common name. Stiff foliage has a feathery, airy appearance. Mexican hat is perennial but self-sows prodigiously, so it isn't necessary to keep plants alive through winter.

Clever Gardening Technique

Siting Backlit Plants
As the sun's angle changes through the seasons, the best areas in any landscape to show off backlit plants will also change. Test spots with container plants at different heights before digging holes; track the changes through the year. Since container plants can be stressed through a long summer, use a "dummy" plant to determine where the sun's rays land. Check out the views from windows, patios, or seating areas where you want the backlighting to be most visible.


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